Modern Day Sabbath | How to Rest and Refresh in a Time-Crunched Culture

Modern Day Sabbath | How to Rest and Refresh in a Time-Crunched Culture

How refreshed would you feel if you took off one day every week? What if for 24 hours, you didn’t work, didn’t fret over cleaning or running errands, and didn’t feel the pressure to check items off your to-do list at the first sign of free time? What if for just one day a week, you refused to feel guilty for resting? You would be participating in a modern day sabbath.

Do We Even Have Time For a Modern Day Sabbath?

Now I know what you’re thinking. If only I didn’t have so much to do!

And I feel you! I work 40 hours a week, spend 10 hours commuting there and back, log 10-15 hours a week into my side gig, and act as my child’s primary caregiver 6-7 hours every weekday, and all day weekends.

So the idea of taking one day off a week sounded impossible and frankly, irresponsible, when I first considered it. But man, if I didn’t need a day off!

What I found was that I was constantly running on fumes when I pushed myself to the max seven days a week. I was exhausted to the point of tears, was easily irritated with the people I loved most, and felt enormous guilt any time I gave myself a few minutes off, thinking about all of the productive things I should have accomplished with that time.

What God Says About Observing the Sabbath

I ultimately found I was worse at everything when I wasn’t taking an occasional rest. And that’s when I stumbled across Isaiah 58:13-14 (MSG) in my daily Bible reading:

“If you watch your step on the Sabbath and don’t use my holy day for personal advantage, if you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy, God’s holy day as a celebration, if you honor it by refusing ‘business as usual,’ making money, running here and there — Then you’ll be free to enjoy God! Oh, I’ll make you ride high and soar above it all. I’ll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob.” Yes! God says so!

The idea in the Bible was that one day a week, people would stop working. They’d attend church, spend time with their family and friends, and avoid checking any items off their to-do lists, all with the intention of honoring God. And it wasn’t just an Old Testament concept!

In Mark 2:27-28, Jesus referred to himself as “Lord of the Sabbath,” and explained that we were not created to serve the sabbath, but that the sabbath was created to serve and help us. Romans 14 further discusses that everything you do on a holy day (alluding to the sabbath) should be done to the glory of God.

What Does a Modern Day Sabbath Look Like?

So what does that mean for today? Because life 2000 years ago was obviously very different (and likely less busy) than it is now. What things can you do to rest and honor God on a modern day sabbath?

  • Refrain from work, or from checking items off your to-do list.
  • Attend church (commanded in Leviticus 23:3 and 1 Corinthians 11:18).
  • Invest extra time into worshiping God, and reading and studying the Bible.
  • Focus on spending quality time with family and friends.
  • Minimize housework as much as possible. I mean, don’t leave out food that brings all the bugs to the yard, but don’t make this the day you vacuum the entire house or scrub the bathtub.
  • Keep meals low-key (think crockpot dumps, sandwiches, or ordering a pizza).
  • Avoid mindless and potentially stressful technology, like scrolling social media or checking emails.
  • Switch things up from your normal day-to-day. So if you spend 40-50 hours a week at a desk, talk a walk or visit a park. If you spend your week on your feet in the hot sun, sit down in a cool room and allow your body to rest.
  • Invest time into those things you’ve been meaning to do for yourself. Take a relaxing bath, watch a movie, or log time with a hobby, like writing, knitting, or biking.

Keep in mind that your sabbath doesn’t necessarily have to fall on a Sunday or Saturday. I’m scheduled to work from 3:00 PM to midnight every Sunday, so I decided to practice my modern day sabbath on one of my days off, Friday.

What About My To-Do List?

What about all of the other things you intended to do that day? After all, it’s rare to experience a day in which you have absolutely nothing to check off your list. What about grocery shopping, paying bills, and filling out that paperwork you were supposed to complete last week?

As I prepared for my first modern day sabbath, I had to decide where to fit all of those tasks elsewhere in my week. Yes, I made the other six days of the week slightly more stressful…in order to create one truly carefree day.

God helped His people accomplish this in the Bible. While He was sending the Israelites their daily manna in the desert, He would always send a double portion of manna on the sixth day, to allow the Israelites to rest from work on the seventh day, their sabbath.

And I believe God does the same for us today. I find it challenging to work full-time and invest time into my side gig — writing and website management. So imagine my fear at the thought of not working at either job for an entire day every week!

But as I began to practice a modern day sabbath, I found that I was accomplishing more on my side gig throughout the week. I was more focused and energized, and knocking out my work in nearly half the time.

I sincerely believe that God blesses our efforts to honor Him, and won’t leave us with work hanging over our heads. It was difficult to believe that at first, but week after week of experiencing God provide helped to settle my mind and heart that the work would be completed.

On my first attempt at a sabbath, I probably got up from my chair 30 times to start a task…then sat back down as I remembered I was observing a sabbath. And I’ve gotta tell you…giving myself the permission, the command even, to rest and focus on my faith and family for 24 hours? It felt like an overwhelming breath of fresh air.

And when I returned to my job, side gig, and general chaos the following day? I felt refreshed, and experienced a surge of energy that I hadn’t felt in months.

Wrap It Up

I challenge you to try practicing your own modern day sabbath. It’s not only an act of obedience to God’s commands, but also an act of love…as we commit one of our most valuable resources, our time, to our Father and Lord.

And the return on that obedience? It’s the rest and refreshment you desperately need.

What will your modern day sabbath look and feel like? We can’t wait to hear about it!

"Tame the Overwhelm!" Worksheet

P.S. Need a little help getting a solid handle on your to-do list? Then nab our free Tame the Overwhelm worksheets here!

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  1. The day i was looking for the meaning of sabbath…This post has just overwhelmed me with Joy… Every single explanation warmly laid & written. Thank you pliz…just may I know personally who wrote all this.. Just remain bless as ever dear…
    Googwa israel from Kampala- Uganda. East Africa.

  2. It is fine to practice Sabbath on a day that isn’t Friday evening to Saturday evening right? I’ve met someone say it has to be Friday, and if we’re going to practice the Sabbath it has to be the real Sabbath. And that why would you choose a day that’s convenient for you, instead of what God has ordained as the Sabbath. It really put me off because it felt super legalistic.

    1. Hi, Athena! While I’m sure some would disagree, I believe the arrival of Jesus shifted the focus from strictly adhering to very specific guidelines, to doing all things with the right heart. We live in an age where we can’t always guarantee we won’t work on a Saturday or Sunday. Sure, we can express our preferences to our employer, but many positions and entire industries (industries where God has called us to serve and witness) don’t have the resources or ability to meet those preferences. Even though I work on Sundays, I still strongly believe in practicing the Sabbath and believe it is God’s desire for my life as well. If you read His word, pray over the words, and do all things with the right heart, I do believe God both accepts and honors those efforts. Thanks so much for reading!!

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